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de­sire for jus­tice, mixed with pas­sion and de­ter­mi­na­tion, runs thick through Noz­izwe Mad­lala-Rout­ledge’s veins. At an age when oth­ers might think of cut­ting back on their ac­tiv­i­ties, this brave woman who stood up to a pres­i­dent and later re­fused to be the head of the ANC’s par­lia­men­tary cau­cus has just taken on her next chal­lenge.

“I want to help re­build civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions in South Africa,” says Mad­lala-Rout­ledge on her 63rd birth­day as she takes on the man­tle of ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Iny­ath­elo.

The NGO aims to build a vi­brant democ­racy and Mad­lala-Rout­ledge has spent her life fight­ing for a more just world. So it is a com­ing to­gether of a great need with a strong re­source. She, like Nel­son Man­dela, em­bod­ies Iny­ath­elo, named af­ter a con­cept that is a com­bi­na­tion of ubuntu and phi­lan­thropy.

Many South Africans who never thought of jus­tice or moral­ity now reach for it in the ru­ins of Marikana and the wake of our gov­ern­ment flout­ing its own laws in favour of Su­dan’s pres­i­dent, Omar al-Bashir.

As we chat over cof­fee, it’s hard to be­lieve this dig­ni­fied, de­light­ful and qui­etly spo­ken woman once trav­elled sur­rounded by sirens and mo­tor­cades in her roles as deputy min­is­ter of de­fence and health.

She’s not the type to miss them. She has a “roll up your sleeves and let’s do it” per­son­al­ity.

“In any vi­brant democ­racy, you need the elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives – par­lia­men­tar­i­ans – to be ac­count­able to those who voted for them. It’s the duty of civil so­ci­ety to en­sure that hap­pens,” she says.

She de­fines civil so­ci­ety as “the non­govern­men­tal sec­tor ... churches, media, arts, sports and busi­ness, to a va­ri­ety of as­so­ci­a­tions. If we don’t keep elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives ac­count­able, democ­racy will fail. Then the gov­ern­ment can do what it wants.”

As an MP, Mad­lala-Rout­ledge al­ways kept her doors wide open to civil so­ci­ety, called her­self an ac­tivist and marched to Par­lia­ment on the is­sue of end­ing vi­o­lence against women.

“Even as I sat in Par­lia­ment mak­ing laws, I needed to stand along­side the peo­ple I was rep­re­sent­ing,” she ex­plains.

Iny­ath­elo: The SA In­sti­tute for Ad­vance­ment has pi­o­neered the de­vel­op­ment of a phil­an­thropic move­ment here. It pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on how to ac­cess and sus­tain fund­ing for thou­sands of civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and univer­si­ties.

Mad­lala-Rout­ledge ac­cepted an of­fer to ap­ply for her new post “be­cause civil so­ci­ety is fac­ing new chal­lenges. In­ter­na­tional donor fund­ing is no longer se­cure, gov­ern­ment sup­port has de­creased and there is a con­tin­u­ous drain in the lead­er­ship pool.”

She talks about the mil­lions of South Africans who go to bed hun­gry, about money be­ing wasted, col­laps­ing bridges and schools not be­ing built, and says “that’s why I ap­pre­ci­ate or­gan­i­sa­tions like Equal Ed­u­ca­tion and Right2Know”.

“They’re call­ing for trans­parency from the gov­ern­ment.”

At Iny­ath­elo’s new, bright build­ing in Wood­stock, Cape Town, or­gan­i­sa­tions look­ing for donor funds are able to ac­cess the cor­rect sites, en­list in pro­grammes such as Get Re­source­ful, and share ideas and tips on how to make their out­fits more vis­i­ble.

The feisty woman grew up in Umzumbe, ru­ral KwaZulu-Natal, in a poor fam­ily, “but in a com­mu­nity that had in­trin­sic val­ues at its core”.

It was her up­bring­ing, her


WAR­RIOR Noz­izwe Mad­lalaRout­ledge

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